Trial results cloud future of Pfizer's torcetrapib

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Pfizer confirmed yesterday that its leading pipeline candidate torcetrapib raised blood pressure in clinical trial patients more than previously reported. Pfizer said new analysis showed that torcetrapib raised patients’ systolic blood pressure, the top number of the blood pressure reading, an average of three to four millimeters. Earlier Pfizer studies indicated a blood pressure increase of two to three millimeters. Pfizer is conducting a 25,000 patient trial to determine whether torcetrapib reduces deaths and heart attacks but full data from the trial is not expected until 2009. The findings released yesterday were preliminary results from more than 4,000 patients already enrolled in the trial. The next release of trial results is expected to occur in March at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology. Pfizer is staking much of its future on treatments for cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. The firm is spending close to $800 million on clinical tests of torcetrapib, which raises good cholesterol known as HDL. Pfizer hopes torcetrapib will be able pick up where cholesterol-fighting drug Liptior leaves off. Lipitor, the world’s best-selling prescription drug with over $12 billion in global sales last year, faces generic competition as early as 2010. If regulators approve torcetrapbib, Pfizer could sell the drug alone as well as in combination with Lipitor. The company believes a combination drug could reverse the buildup of the plaque that can build up and blocking blood vessels, leading to heart attacks and strokes.
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